Category Archives: Work In Progress

The Ways Of The Wolf – Illustration Process

With all of the final artwork from my new book ‘Ways Of The Wolf’ completed and with the publisher (Wren & Rook), I have permission to share a little bit of it. So, I thought I’d write up how one of the spread illustrations was created, from sketch to final artwork.

As the illustrator for a children’s book, the first thing you receive from the publisher is the manuscript and any art notes that the Editor wants you to be aware of.

After a good read, I start sketching and gathering reference material. The Ways of the Wolf is a non fiction book and so, although my work is stylised to a degree due to the materials I use, everything in the book has to be accurate.

I’ll scribble a few ideas down very loosely and once I’ve settled on what I think would make a good composition, I’ll send a less scribbly sketch to my Editor. I try to do this quite quickly and only send one, rather than a bunch of ideas for the spread. I find that this makes the whole process more efficient, as the Editor can give quick feedback on my initial thoughts that in turn gives me a lot of information on how best to steer the direction of the artwork.

Here’s the first sketch that I sent in (I usually throw a bit of quick Photoshop colour on to the drawing too, just to give an indication of the lighting and mood):

wolf-pack-sketchwolf-pack-colour

The feedback that I received was that we were too tight in on the wolves and that we needed to show more of the beautiful habitat in which they live.

A note on feedback: Never dismiss feedback! It’s fine to push back and express your views in a respectful way if you feel strongly about the direction of an illustration, but Editors know what they are doing and they will probably know far more than you do about the market. When working with a good Editor or Art Director (as I was on this book), be open, as their thoughts and feedback will always elevate the Illustrations.

wolves-sketch-v2

This approach was approved, but my Editor wanted me to pull back even further so that the wolves weren’t so much of the main focus, really planting them in their environment.

Here’s what we decided on and this is pretty much as detailed as I get with client roughs. I’m lucky that I work with clients who trust me and my medium – occasionally, I’ll draw up some of the details more accurately to work from, but I generally work out the details as I cut and paste my scanned textures in the final collage stage:

wolves-sketch-v3.1

Approved, with just a little note from my Editor to give a little more room for text.

wolf-sketch-amends

And so, here it is, the final artwork for the spread:

spread-10-11

spread-10-11-crop

Sometimes, I’ll add a few extra elements in to the piece that weren’t in the sketch. Elements that perhaps tell a story or add another dimension. See if you can spot this little guy below in the finished spread above.

hare

I’m very proud of this book (I’ve loved wolves since I was a little kid) and have loved working with the lovely people at Wren & Rook. I’ve just signed the contract for the next book in our series too and can’t wait to tell you what the subject of this one will be!!!

‘The Ways Of The Wolf’ will be published in October 2017 by Wren & Rook.

Working on this project also inspired the first pin in my wildlife Pin Club series too – click the image below to learn more about my enamel pin series and to sign up to the club.

Wolf pins will be shipping out to club members and pre-purchase customers in the first week of February.

pin-club-website-banner

Download the December 2016 Desktop

Download the December 2016 Desktop

This month’s desktop features an illustration that my daughter asked me to create for her Christmas present this year – she loves snow leopards and luckily she said I could use it for the December desktop 🙂

ttwn-december-2016-wallpaper-blog

To download your copy of the December desktop, please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”:

BBC Wildlife Artist Of The Year 2013 Entry – Work In Progress Pt.1

BBC Wildlife Sketch

For the past 2 years I’ve entered the BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year competition and have been lucky enough to make it through to the finals each time (with my Golden Eagle in 2011 and my Grey Heron in 2012), receiving commendations from the judges.

This year, I’ve really thought about what was lacking in my previous two entries and tried my best to come up with something that would give me the best chance of finally bagging a win. I realised that there wasn’t much movement, drama or story in my previous entries so have tried to incorporate all three elements this year.

For my 2013 entry I’m going to be creating a collage of a Great Grey Owl and so far I’ve finalised my sketch/composition (see above) and have transferred the drawing to the art board ready to start collaging.

BBC Wildlife Collage

You’ll notice that at the last minute I decided to change the right wing of the owl to a more horizontal position rather than vertical. I thought this made for a better composition and also a more imposing figure as he bears down on his prey – I did keep the tilt of the body though to show how he silently corrects his position as he goes in for the kill.

The final collage measures a whopping 80 x 45cm (the largest piece I’ve ever worked on) and the deadline for entries is the 28th February, so I better get my skates on.

I’ll post more pics on the blog as the collage progresses.

90 Animal Collages In 6 Weeks…

After a grueling 6 weeks of furious cutting and sticking, constantly hoovering up tiny bits of paper all round the house and 90+ animal collages later, all the final artwork for my first children’s pop-up book is now with the publishers.

It’s been a lot of hard work and many late nights, but I’ve loved working on such a diverse range of creatures and it will be very exciting to see my first children’s book on the shelves.

The book has a tentative release date of February 2013.

Here’s a look at a number of the original cut paper collages before their digital polish…

I’ll be running a competition to win a copy of the book once it’s released, so keep you eyes out on the blog, facebook page and Twitter for details.

Before and After

Still working hard on the children’s wildlife pop-up book and am finally over the half way mark, so I thought I’d share a little before and after of a recent Jaguar collage that I completed for the book.

Sometimes I’m unable to find exactly the right colour magazine clippings for the animal I’m collaging, but I know as long as the tonal range is right, I’d be able to tweak it with an adjustment layer of colour in Photoshop.

Due to the tight deadline of the book project, there’s no way I’d have time to cut out all those spots either, so I once again turn to Photoshop for efficiency. I try to only use it as a digital version of my glue and scissors by scanning magazine clippings and cutting them out digitally to place over the scanned collage. This way I don’t end up with a final image that looks obviously Photoshopped (I hope!)

Here is a before and after of the basic scanned collage and the final Photoshopped image.

Children’s Wildlife Pop-up Book

I’m currently working on a rather large children’s wildlife pop-up book containing 70+ animals, all of which need to be cut paper collaged.

The deadline is super tight which means a pretty relentless schedule of Illustrating into the small hours every night for the next month, but I love the subject matter and am very excited to be working on my first pop-up book.

I can’t share much due to contracts, but below are a few snippets of some of the animals I’ve been working on so far…

Sea Life Children’s Pop-Up Book

I recently received another commission from the ‘Dino Pop-Up Book’ client – this time sea creatures!

After the fun creating the collage dinosaurs for the previous project, this time I got to work on traditional collages of a Great White Shark, a Hump Back Whale, a Sea Turtle, an Angler Fish (such weird creatures) + another 12 or so fish.

I’m still mid deadline (everything is due at the publisher on 4th October) and it’s been a pretty grueling schedule, working until 3am for the past 7 days straight due to other work commitments, but with such lovely subjects to work on it’s also been a lot of fun.

The publisher will be taking both the dinosaur and ocean finished artwork to the Frankfurt Book Fair mid October so fingers crossed they get picked up and reach publication.

I’m not allowed to show the full sea creature spreads but here’s a sneak peek at the Octopus and Humpback Whale collages.

Right, back to work – there are magazines waiting to be turned into a Leopard Seal tonight!

The Grey Heron: Work In Progress Update

Here are a few more work in progress shots of the Grey Heron collage – hoping to get three solid evenings work on him after my little one has gone to bed and have him finished by the end of the weekend.

I then have 3 weeks to get 2 other pieces (The Fox and The Hare) done before my gallery deadline.

In other news, my commended BBC Wildlife Artist Of The Year entry was featured on the BBC Discover Wildlife website – you can also see the overall winning image and all of the other commended finalists work on there too. So many beautiful paintings – definitely worth checking out.

New Gallery Collage Work In Progress: The Grey Heron

Working on 3 new collages to go with my Golden Eagle for a rather nice local gallery and thought I’d share a few work in progress photos of the Grey Heron that’s currently on the art board.

After working out my composition and transferring the drawing to my art board (went over the sketch in pen to preserve the line work) I started on the background adding tissue paper reeds.

The tissue paper reeds look pretty harsh at this point but it will mostly be covered up as I’m creating a kind of underpainting to get rid of the harsh white art board and create a John Jame Audubon kind of feel.

Once the background texture had been completed, I started to work on the main collage adding the actual reeds which at this point looks like the heron has come to an unfortunate end having been impaled numerous times.

Still lots to do before I move on to the Heron, including the water that he’s standing in (decided to have the left foot submerged) and add in a further few small reeds and other riverside foliage but quite pleased with how it’s coming together at this point.

The actual collage measures about 60 x 80 cm.